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T he First Amendment trumps the state’s trade secrets protection law, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled Thursday in a dispute over an Internet link to code that unscrambles encrypted DVDs.

A three-judge panel overturned a preliminary injunction won by an industry group that licenses the technology used to encrypt DVDs, saying it was not a permissible prior restraint on pure speech.

“[DVD Copy Control Association]‘s statutory right to protect its economically valuable trade secret is not an interest that is ‘more fundamental’ than the First Amendment right to freedom of speech or even on equal footing with the national security interests and other vital governmental interests that have previously been found insufficient to justify a prior restraint,” Justice Eugene Premo wrote. “Our respect for the Legislature and its enactment of the [Uniform Trade Secrets Act] cannot displace our duty to safeguard the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

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